Sumiran Karle

Guru NanakAfter a week spent travelling, I zone in on my music today like a traveller zones in on water after a week in the desert. What my soul needs today is a bhajan to soothe away the tiredness of travel. I hesitate not a minute before playing this beautiful song in Raga Sindhu Bhairavi.

I love this beautiful raga so very much! Perhaps because of its name, I imagine myself in the sacred banks of the river Indus, as the day dawns golden, the fertile plains of Sindh stretching all around me, a gentle breeze wafting in the sounds of Guruji singing this bhajan, my eyes flowing like the river beside me.

Who doesn’t know Guru Nanak (1469-1539)? The founder of Sikhism, he stressed the importance of Naam Japan – chanting of God’s name and remembering Him at all times. In this beautiful composition, the Guruji extolls  ‘Remember his name, life is passing by’. He then goes on to compare a life without God’s name in many different ways – ‘A tree without fruits’, ‘Earth without clouds’ etc. His advice is  to ‘Leave lust, anger, pride and greed’. The words are beautiful with a flow enhanced by the raga in which they are set. I have transcribed the lyrics below. For the full translation, see footnote.

सुमिरन कर ले मेरे मना तेरी बीती जाती  उमर हरी नाम बिना रे ||
कूप नीर बिन धेनु क्षीर बिन धरती मेघ बिना |
जैसे तरुवर फल बिन हीना तैसे प्राणी हरी नाम बिना रे ||
देह नैन बिन रैन चन्द्र बिन मंदिर दीप बिना |
जैसे पंडित वेद विहीना तैसे प्राणी हरी नाम बिना रे ||
काम क्रोध मद लोभ निवारो छाड़ दे अब संत जना |
कह नानक तू सुन भगवंता या जग में नहीं कोई अपना ||

To present this song, I have found a remarkable and unique concert by the inimitable Pandit Jasraj of the Hindustani tradition accompanied by the Violin Maestro L.Subramaniam of the Carnatic tradition and his wife Kavita Subramaniam, famous for her singing in the Hindi film industry.  It is to L.Subramaniam’s credit that in spite of his name and fame, he has played a supporting role to his elder.


Footnote 1: Translation

Remember God, O mind of mine, life is passing by without remembering his name.

Like a well without water, a cow without milk, like earth without clouds,
Like trees without fruits, so is a being without God’s name .

Like a body without eyes, like a night without a moon, like a temple without a lamp,
Like a learned man without scriptures, so is a being without God’s name.

Be rid of lust, anger, pride and greed, O good people!
Nanak says listen O seekers, no one in this world is your own.



Filed under Bhajan, Guru Nanak, Hindustani Classical Music, Jasraj, Kavita Subramaniam, L.Subramaniam

12 responses to “Sumiran Karle

  1. Narasimha Raj

    Suja, Two ‘greats’ & a talented/accomplished singer combine together in rendering the Bhajan composed by a ‘Great’! What else can be expected if not pure nectar!?
    I do not have a library of Music CDs. I depend on listening to music on the TV (I don’t get good reception on the old transistor radio I have). Fortunately, DD Bharati puts out good cultural evens/performances. Last night, I sat watching/listening to an hour’s ‘treat’ of Violin recital by the mother & daughter combination of Dr.N.Rjam and Dr.Sangita Shankar. It was an experience which cannot be explained by me as eloquently as you do but certainly one to be gone through! I wish you consider coming up with a ‘post’ on the music & performance of the mother& daughter.
    Best Wishes.

    • Hello Raj, indeed I too greatly enjoyed Pandit Jasraj & L.Subramaniam’s rendition of this lovely bhajan. I am glad you liked it too.

      As to Dr.N.Rajam, I have long listened to her, I find her bowing technique and creativity to be astounding. In fact, I have a CD of hers for the last 25 years or so which I treasure as one of my all-time favourites! I have not heard the mother-daughter duet, I shall look online for some and why not, if I find something which appeals I will feature them 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Dr Chandan Gokhale

    in What raag has Anoop Jalota sang this Bhajan Sumiran kar le ?

  3. Padma Ramani

    Dear Suja…what a beautiful soul stirring rendition by the mastreo….and the support by melodious Kavita and violoin support by another mastreo….just immersed in this bajan now…feel blessed…god bless you,
    cheers Padma

    • Hi Padma, This is such a gorgeous bhajan, isn’t it! And Padit Jasraj is my all time favourite..Enjoy!
      Cheers. Suja

      • Padma Ramani

        Hi Suja…I once had the oppurtunity to travel with Pt Jasraj , from Mumbai to Lucknow, and he was seated, just behind me. and what a pleasant surprise i had when i was woken up midflight by a humming sound, which was none other than Pandit ji humming a raaga…i took a moment to realise its him I am hearing and i Just got goosebumps….what a memorable experience…sad no mobile days and so no pic with him…
        cheers Padma

      • Hi Padma, I had the privilege of hearing him live in Australia. His voice is just heaven! You have had a memorable experience!
        Cheers. Suja

  4. Jassi

    Suja, Do you know the author of this hymn, or the origin? I was unable to find it after searching all of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Thanks.

    • Hi Jassi, Every source I looked up refers to the author as Guru Nanak but even though I searched, I could not find a reference to the exact verse or book. I will continue to search but for the moment, I do not know the answer.
      Cheers. Suja

  5. Chhinderpal Singh

    It is misconception that author of this great & lovely bhajan is Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
    But, it is not in Gurbani.
    Must be clarified by someone known.

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